PERFORMING ARTS WE LIKE THIS

Winner of the GEEKED Magazine Blog Contest: The Rainbow Theater by Shyeta Williams

Rainbow Theater is a damn good movement. A permanent part of every participant, both audience and performer. The theater group finds its home in Stevenson college, a sect of the University of California, Cruz.

Its members pride themselves on Rainbow being the only multicultural theater group within the University of California system. It’s more than just a theater group though. It is a soul feast, surrounding you with not only love and encouragement, but the kind of open-mindedness and spirit most people will never have the gift of experiencing. It’s enough lessons for a lifetime crammed into a few short weeks. Intense doesn’t even begin to describe Rainbow.

It’s been two years since my Rainbow season ended and I am still affected by the constantly challenged, mind blown wide open, full of love, when will I eat, am I crying, it’s tomorrow already isn’t it, hot mess of a zombie that season made me.

When I say season, what I am referring to are the performances at the end of every fall that the year’s team assembles and perfects. Each year there is a Chicano/Latino, Asian-American, and African-American play. Fresh for Rainbow’s 19th season the Rainbow Theater Dance Troupe will perform a multi-ethnic play known as the 5th element, and Poet’s Corner.

Rainbow Theater’s founder always said that Rainbow is a vessel, and Poets Corner is it’s engine. As defined by our directors, Imani Caradonna and Samantha Rosa Aguirre: Poet’s is a collective artistic endeavor. This project encompasses the organic essence of creativity and expression through music, poetry, dance, and, drama. A script that is woven together by the entire cast serves as the foundation for the project’s voice. Spontaneity, trust, and openness makes Poet’s Corner an organism of pure undifferentiated potential. You salivating yet? Wait until you hear the content.

There are no limits to what the seasons explore. There’s a reason the programs are split into 3 nights; it’d be awkward if too many people fainted. The shows delve into issues of identity, race, death, rape, gender, socio-economics, sexuality, consumerism, genocide, history, herstory…did I say no limits? I meant to!

The reason it’s life-changing is because it’s about life! That glorious prism that is held tightly but never questioned, all too frequently taken for granted: life. Seldom are young people looked to as a source for rich cultural knowledge but Rainbow turns that on its head. It screams, “these are our stories too, now listen!” As you would expect, everyone in Rainbow will have a different story to tell. Testimonies ranged from exploring transgendered experiences in stiletto’s as in Ricardo A. Bracho’s “Sissy,” or as an old woman watching her house succumb to a hurricane in Rosalind Bell’s New Orleans Monologues. But regardless of the narrative, we all have something in common. The experience gave us the capacity to be catalysts for something great.

In a summarizing final paper for Rainbow, (all that magic AND 5 course units???) I wrote,

We discussed our own feelings and the conversation reflected our feelings towards hate crimes, and the discourse on homosexuality in America. Sama then proceeded to share a quote with us by Martin Luther King: “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” She explained that people like us were the key to a new world paradigm, we were maladjusted; we desired to change the world that was unfolding around us, and because of that yearning, we were destined to change it.

Our Rainbow alumni are sprinkled around the world; Brazil, Spain, New York. It’s not just a little theater group in the corner of a forest. Consider Margaret Mead’s thoughts on who changes the world. And there is plenty of change to be done. Join us, will you?

To learn more about Rainbow Theater please visit www.cadrc.org/

For questions/comments feel free to send an email to culturalartsanddiversity@gmail.com

Rainbow Theater also includes our wonderful film crew Rainbow TV, & TECH CREW which makes it all come together. Rainbow Outreach is a group which travels to high schools spittin’ knowledge about available resources to pursue higher education.

Shyeta discovered her voice loud and clear amongst redwoods, love, and fog at UCSC. Her writing and poetry are typically feminist focused, but also include other socio-political and societal content. Shyeta is trying to find her wings in the writing world, and to stay sharp writes a mostly hilarious blog on women in pop culture (theharlotrenaissance.wordpress.com).

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